We don’t get into a leadership position because it’s easy. We choose to lead because we know we can make a difference.
Yet, so many times, we slip into creature comfort. We stop doing important tasks because they can be outsourced or someone else can do them better (i.e., I don’t want to do them).
We stop getting dirty…
5 Ways To Get Dirty Leading
In Spartan Up!, a book about the Spartan endurance races founder, author Joe De Sena mentions how his kids were training for a race. When the kids came to a puddle, they froze. The kids had been taught that they needed to stay clean. They couldn’t proceed past this obstacle until they overcame the mistaken idea that life is neat and tidy.
You have to overcome this mindset, too. Leadership isn’t clean. It’s not neat and tidy or packaged with a bow. Leadership requires leaders to get dirty.
There are five things you can do to get dirty while leading. They are:
1. Do things that make you uncomfortable:
The people we lead have to do things that make them uncomfortable. It’s time for us to do uncomfortable things.
We may have to try something new for the first time. Or there may be a task we cringe at when we hear about it.
Do the things that make you uncomfortable. These uncomfortable tasks will stretch you and make your leadership muscles stronger.
2. Let someone go:
It’s a difficult task to let someone go. They were brought onto the team for a reason, but they just didn’t work out.
Even knowing that they’re not a good fit, you know letting them go will change their lives. Firing someone is a dirty task.
You don’t feel comfortable. You feel icky. You might even have second thoughts.
This is one situation you have to get dirty with. You have to do the difficult things. You have to let them go.
3. Work the menial work:
We’ve risen above doing the menial work, right? That’s why we get paid more, move the company along, and are leading, right?
Wrong. We’ve been fed this lie a lot in the modern era. We need to find people who can replace us so we can do only the work that we can do.
It sounds great. It feels great. But it’s not working.
We’ve gotten so far away from where we started that we forget what it was like. We need to step back into the roles we’ve left ever so often. We need to remember where we came from and what it was like.
4. Mourning with those we lead:
Life and work intersect more than ever. One thing that hasn’t changed is that people still face hardships.
A coworker loses their spouse. A divorce happens. Or sickness hits a family.
We have to get our hands dirty by mourning with these people.
Get into the messy situations in others’ lives. Show them you’re there for them.
Mourn and weep with them when it is appropriate.
5. Make difficult decisions:
In addition to letting people go, you’re going to have to make difficult decisions. These decisions can make you feel dirty.
You may have to lay someone off, stop a business deal from proceeding, or intercede in an altercation.
Difficult decisions are difficult. They’re going to suck.
But leaders embrace the suck. They make the difficult decisions. They choose to do the right thing.
Leading isn’t always clean. You’ve learned that. Now, go get dirty when you need to.